Human Rights in Palestine
The time is ripe for international bodies to play the role of enforcer
65 years have passed since more than 6 million Palestinians were displaced and another 800,000 displaced following the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Warnings about the destruction of the Palestinian land, economy and people have raised each year the same alarms. Still, action is slow. The timing is ripe for international and European governing bodies to play the role of enforcer.
During the 24th session of the Human Rights Council, Geneva International Centre for Justice participated in the discussions related to the human rights situation in Palestine
Statements under agenda item 6
Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
The first oral statement on Palestine by GICJ was delivered by Ms. Daniela Dönges under Agenda Item 6, on 23 September 2013. She criticised the failure of Israel to appear before the Working Group in January 2013, which created a dangerous precedent for the Universal Periodic Review mechanism and the respect for human rights worldwide. She called to consider the 29 October as a definitive date for the working group to conduct its review, with or without the presence of the country concerned.
Full text of the statement:
Thank you Mr. President. This is joint statement with Geneva International Centre for Justice.
Mr President, the UPR is one of the most important mechanisms of the HRC for the promotion and protection of Human Rights and must be taken seriously. The failure of Israel to appear before the Working Group for its review in January created a dangerous precedent for the UPR mechanism and the respect for human rights worldwide.
Such an abstention from the UPR was more than a mere extension from the session. It must instead be seen as part of a persistent non-cooperation against the fundamental obligation of any member of the United Nations and cannot be tolerated.
Regrettably until this day there is no change in this policy. Instead of submitting to international law Israel has called this Council a “political tool and convenient platform” and linked further collaboration with political demands such as the attempt to undermine item 7 on this Council’s agenda.
Such rhetoric is obviously part of a playing-for-time-strategy, which gives Israel the necessary space to continue its illegal occupation of Palestinian land and creeping land annexation, further undermining the fundamental human rights of Palestinians as well as their right to self-determination.
This strategy is reflected in significantly increased settlement activities since the General Assembly’s decision to recognize Palestine as non-member state, characterized by an exploding number of house demolitions and massive evictions in 2013 and, most recently, the adoption of the Prawer Plan, which will result in the forced displacement of up to 70,000 Arab Bedouins.
Mr President, a persistent non-cooperation of a State with the UPR must bare consequences. Any delay to take action, any concessions to political pressure will seriously undermine the credibility of this Council as well as the effectiveness of the UPR.
In accordance with the working group’s resolution adopted in January 2013 we call on this Council to consider the 29 October as a definitive date for the working group to conduct its review, with or without the presence of the country concerned.
GICJ Statements under agenda item 7
Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab Territories
On behalf of EAFORD, Geneva International Centre of Justice and EuroMid Observer for Human Right, Ms. Hanine Hassan delivered an oral statement during the General Debate under agenda item 7. She exposed the human rights violations occurring in Palestine including the alarming increase of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Ms. Hassan concluded that “The timing is ripe for international and European governing bodies to play the role of enforcer and to sanction Israel”.
Full text of the statement:
Thank you Mr President. This is a joint statement with Geneva International Centre for Justice and the EuromMid Observer for Human rights.
65 years have passed since more than 6 million Palestinians were displaced to make way for the state of Israel and another 800,000 displaced following the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Warnings about the destruction of the Palestinian land, economy and people have accelerated to a crescendo, each year raising the same alarms. Still, action is slow.
Until this day uncountable reports have been issued by various affiliates of the UN and the European Parliament, as well as human rights organizations, deploring Israeli war crimes and violations regarding legalized discrimination against Palestinians, Israeli abuse of water resources, expansion of settlements, the illegality of the siege on Gaza, the demolitions of Palestinian homes and internal displacement, the restrictions of freedoms, and the deplorable conditions of prisoners including the arbitrary arrests of minors.
The overwhelming majority of the UN General Assembly supports the creation of a Palestinian state defined by pre-1967 borders. Additionally the UN’s September 2011 report concluded that a fundamental rolling back of the occupation is now essential. Yet disturbing developments in the Naqab, make it clear that the problem is not only the occupation; it’s the ideology behind, which is the hegemony over Palestine along with a systematic policy of discrimination.
Despite its awareness of the ongoing Human rights violations the European Union has so far served to fund the occupation, although Article 2 of the EU-Israel agreement states respect of human rights as a pre-condition for cooperation. It is time the European Union and all members of this Council pass from words to action and send a clear sign to Israel that it can no longer violate human rights with impunity.
In conclusion, Mr President, the number of resolutions and statistics that condemned, deplored and rejected the Israeli violations over the past decades have been uncountable. It is time to practice the preaching. The timing is ripe for international and European governing bodies to play the role of enforcer and to sanction Israel. Only then impunity will end and an opportunity for a just peace be created.
Thank you for your attention
Side event democracy and the right to self-determination
With regard to Palestine Daniela Dönges from GICJ also participated in a side event organized on 11 September 2013 on the topic Democracy and the Right to self-determination. Palestine is the classic case of the denial of a people's right to self-determination, she explained. Based on her personal experience on the ground and the work with GICJ she stressed that she aimed at presenting the human face of the denial of self-determination in order to understand what it means to the people. As main factors contributing to the suffering, she identified occupation, creeping land annexation and the lack of identiy.
General Debate under agenda item 7
Human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab Territories
During the discussions of item 7, the Council was presented the Report of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights Situation in the oPT, including East Jerusalem followed by a General Debate.
FLAVIA PANSIERI, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, introduced the report of the Secretary-General. The report was based on information gathered by the Office of the High Commissioner and other United Nations entities operating in Palestine. It addressed the human rights situation in Gaza and the on-going blockade. The Secretary-General recommended a lifting of the blockade and urged Israel to remedy punitive measures against civilians.
The report further reiterated concerns regarding the human rights situation in the West Bank and the situation of Palestinians detained by Israel. The report also raised concerns with regard to the ill-treatment of Palestinians by the Palestinian Authority.
The lack of accountability for violations of international law, including the failure of all parties to effectively investigate such violations, was a concern raised throughout the report. The Secretary-General noted that there were serious concerns that neither Israel nor the de facto authorities in Gaza had adequate investigated violations of international law following the end of last November’s escalation in hostilities in Gaza.
The report finally recommended that the Government of Palestine conduct effective investigations into all suspected violations of international law. The Secretary-General noted that the adoption of the National Plan of Action for Human Rights would be an important step to assist Palestine in its on-going efforts to improve its human rights performance.
Palestine, as the concerned country, regretted the absence of the Israeli Ambassador in the Council, which in his view illustrated the arrogance of Israel. He further explained that Israel continued to deliberately violate United Nations resolutions and international law, fully applicable in the oPT. He further demanded to break down the separation barrier, which was illegal according to the International Court of Justice and an obstacle to the enjoyment of the rights of the Palestinian people. Palestine further stretched that Israeli settlements were illegal under international law. An independent committee of the Working Group should be established to investigate the effects of the Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. According to a multitude of international bodies Israel had to respect the Geneva conventions and the attempt to change the socio-demographic nature of parts of Palestine was null and void. The failure of the international community to ensure that Israel respected its obligations jeopardized the credibility of international law. The international community had to find mechanisms to enforce international law at all times. The systematic occupation policy was the major cause of the human rights violations that occurred in Palestine. The blockade on occupied Gaza had to be lifted.
Syria, speaking as a concerned country, said that the continued culture of impunity in Israel had been attested by many international commissions and amounted to war crimes. For some countries Israel had a status somehow above the law, which did not enjoy any legitimacy. The treatment of prisoners, the abuse of the rights of those living in the Golan, and the destruction of the occupied lands should all be ended. Syria called for a boycott of Israeli products made as a result of the occupation.
In the general debate that followed, speakers voiced deep concern about the illegal conduct of Israel which was not consistent with its obligations under international humanitarian law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the OIC, said that it was deeply concerned by the illegal conduct of Israel, inconsistent with its obligations under international law. Israel’s blockade of Gaza was an unlawful act of collective punishment. The OIC demanded an end of the illegal occupation of Syrian land, and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law.
Iran, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, appreciated the report of the Secretary-General and deeply shared his concerns on the recurrence of violations already highlighted in previous reports. It condemned the persistent non-cooperation of Israel and its blatant disregard of its international obligations. The continued illegal settlement policy had to cease.
Gabon, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said the report noted that the rights of the Palestinians continued to be flouted by the very existence of settlements. There was shared concern about continued settlement building by Israel and about violence by settlers. The African Group called for an immediate end and dismantling of settlementsg.
Palestine, speaking on behalf of the Arab Group, condemned the lack of cooperation and respect shown by Israel. Israel continued its colonialist measures against all UN resolutions and the Fourth Geneva Convention, applicable to the oPT, including Jerusalem. It was high time for the international community to move from words to actions.
Ecuador, speaking on behalf of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas, reiterated the recognition given to the State of Palestine in 2010. It was worrying that violence continued and a call for peace through dialogue and negotiation was made. The Alliance denounced the illegal settlements and demanded that the Council must take the appropriate measures against direct perpetrators of killings.
Brazil, speaking on behalf of the India, Brazil and South Africa Dialogue Forum, said that serious human rights violations continued to be committed in the oPT and reiterated their call upon Israel to stop building settlements. The countries were disturbed by ongling demolitionsa. Israel should lift the blockade on Gaza. Occupation remained the main cause of human rights violations in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The Independent Commission for Human Rights of Palestine sent a video message, saying that Israel’s siege of Gaza and restrictions of movement throughout the oPT were a flagrant violation of human rights and constituted a form of collective punishment. From it flowed the inability of the Palestinian Authority to provide public services, particularly with respect to hospitals and health establishments. The blockade prevented patients from seeking treatment in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
GICJ Activities on the Human Rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories
GICJ Urgent Appeals on Palestine:
- GICJ - Punishing people for the misdeeds of others clearly violates international law - July 2014
- A match in the powder keg: The occupying force continues to contravene international law - April 2014
- GICJ – Urgent Appeal on the Forcible eviction of Ein Hijleh - February 2014
- UN press release on behalf of Issa Amro - September 2013
- GICJ –Urgent appeal following arbitrary arrest of Sireen Khudiri - June 2013
- GICJ – Follow-up appeal on behalf of HR defender - June 2013
- GICJ - Follow-up appeal on the case of Mr. Issa Amro - April 2013
- GICJ - Urgent Appeal to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders - March 2013
- GICJ – Urgent Appeal to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 - February 2013
GICJ Side-Events and oral statements on Palestine:
Human Rights Council - 30th regular session (14 September - 2 October 2015)
Human Rights Council - 29th regular session (15 June - 3 July 2015)
Human Rights Council - 21st special session on the human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem (23 July 2014)
Human Rights Council - 26th regular session (10 - 27 June 2014):
Human Rights Council - 25th regular session (3 - 28 March 2014):
Human Rights Council - 24th regular session (9 - 27 September 2013):
- Side-event: Human Rights in Palestine - Palestinian Refugees in Diaspora and their Right of Return, Where to?
- Side-event: Human Rights in Middle East - Give Peace a chance
- Democracy and the Right to self-determination
- GICJ statements on Palestine
Human Rights Council - 23rd regular session (27 May - 14 June 2013):